Sri Lanka’s Information War

I’ve seen quite a few headlines recently trumpeting the Sri Lankan government’s victory in its counterinsurgency against the LTTE (Tamil Tigers) terorist/guerilla insurgency. That comes on the heels of the military’s capture of the LTTE’s “capital” of Kilinochchi.

But the news out of Sri Lanka today about the murder of Lasantha Wickrematunga, an anti-government newspaper editor, made me feel like Brian Calvert’s fascinating, three-part series (here, here and here) on the information war that is part and parcel of the government’s counterinsurgency was worth a second look. Especially Part II, which begins as follows:

No one understands the importance of Sri Lanka’s information warquite like N. Vithyatharan, an editor whose two Tamil-languagenewspapers — one in the northern peninsula of Jaffna, the other inColombo — are “continuously targeted by pro-government forces.”Vithyatharan is a small man with a listing walk that suggests heavyburdens.

During a visit to his Colombo office, he related howin May 2006, on the night before international press freedom day, fivemasked gunmen shot up the Jaffna compound of the newspaper there, theUthayan.

Sometimes an information war is a war of information. Sometimes it’s a war on information. The Sri Lankan counterinsurgency seems to be a bit of both.

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